7 Things to Consider When Hiring A Family Law Lawyer
Determining if and when you should hire a family law lawyer in Calgary can be complicated. In some situations, you and the other party may work through some of the separation logistics on your own and only involve a family lawyer once you have reached an agreement.
In other circumstances, you may require a lawyer immediately to assist in communicating and negotiating an agreement. As family law lawyers in Calgary, we recommend obtaining legal advice as soon as possible, as it’s the best way to ensure your resolution will be legally binding. Early legal advice also saves you legal fees as you ensure everything is done right first.
1. Jurisdiction – Location
When hiring a family law lawyer in Calgary, finding someone eligible to practice law where your legal proceedings are taking place is essential. It can get complicated based on the following:
- Where you were married
- Where you resided during the relationship
- Where you purchased the property
- Where you currently reside
For example, if you were married in Mexico but have been living in Alberta for at least 1-year following the filing of the Statement of Claim, a lawyer in Calgary will be able to assist you. However, if you were married in Mexico, lived in Calgary for five years during the marriage, but returned to Mexico for the past five years, a lawyer in Calgary would not have the jurisdiction to assist you. Jurisdiction is one of the first questions to ask family lawyers when you book an initial consultation.
Additionally, while Calgary-based family law lawyers can practice law throughout Alberta, it often makes sense to retain a lawyer close to the courthouse where your pleadings will be filed. If your lawyer needs to attend court for any reason, they will bill you for the time it takes to commute. Hiring a Calgary-based family law lawyer to assist you in Red Deer can be very expensive.
2. Communication Is Key
The ability to communicate is imperative when hiring legal counsel. You want to find someone who communicates clearly and in a way that makes you feel comfortable with the information provided. Throughout your file, you will have many questions to ask your family lawyer, and you will want to receive easy-to-digest information.
Also, when hiring a family lawyer in Calgary, advise them how you prefer to receive communication; you may prefer the telephone, email or in-person meetings. While family lawyers may not always be able to accommodate your preferred method, they should ensure they communicate with you in a way that makes you feel comfortable, especially concerning big decisions.
3. Experience in Family Law – Questions to Ask
One of the first questions to ask a family law lawyer in Calgary is what areas of law they practice. If your family lawyer practices general law and doesn’t practice exclusively in family law, this may lead to issues down the road. Family law is very complex, and the legal processes and precedents are constantly changing to ensure the best needs of families and children are always met. We highly encourage anyone seeking legal counsel to find a lawyer who practices exclusively in family law.
4. Ask for Recommendations, but Make Your Own Decision
Family lawyers are there to guide you through your case and provide valuable advice. However, remember that every case is unique. Your family may have different needs and face unique challenges from other cases. It can be beneficial to ask trusted family members or friends who have had a positive experience with a lawyer in your area but always do your own research.
As well, you can certainly read online reviews or the firm’s website to see if they match your needs and values. Make sure to take some time to connect with the lawyer you are considering before making a decision.
5. Dedication to Ongoing Professional Development
As stated above, the law constantly changes and adapts to society’s current needs. As such, your lawyer must be dedicated to ongoing legal education so that they can provide you with current and relevant legal advice. When hiring a family lawyer, be bold and ask questions about what courses and educational resources they have recently engaged in. A good family lawyer should be able to provide you with a list of their ongoing education easily.
6. Expertise and Experience
When shopping around for legal counsel, there are many questions to ask family lawyers, such as hourly rates and years of experience. Another fundamental question to inquire about is their practice style/reputation. Some lawyers are known for having a more aggressive strategy, while others are more easygoing and collaborative. No method is better than the other overall, but depending on your specific situation, this is certainly something to consider.
Suppose you and your ex-partner are amicable and plan to sort out many details independently. In that case, you certainly don’t want to hire a family lawyer who will complicate your agreements further and make for an adversarial situation. However, on the flip side, if the other party is not forthcoming with their disclosure, you may opt to hire a family lawyer with a reputation for being more direct.
7. Availability and Expectations
The wheels of justice turn slowly, and if you are going through the court process, much of the waiting is out of your lawyer’s hands. However, when hiring a family lawyer, you want to ensure you find someone who responds quickly to your inquiries and is willing to take the time to speak with you when you have questions or concerns. If you feel your file is not a priority to your lawyer, don’t be afraid to speak up and let them know.
Your family law proceedings are one of the most stressful times in your life, and your legal counsel should be doing everything to answer your questions promptly.
Jones Divorce and Family Law
At Jones Divorce and Family Law, we aim to minimize divorce’s emotional and financial strain. Our firm was created for clients who want meaningful access to justice through quality, binding resolutions – with the option to proceed with or without lawyers.
Learn more about us, or book a consultation with us today.
Disclaimer: The content provided in the blog posts of Jones Divorce & Family Law is general information and should not be considered legal advice. Please contact a lawyer for legal advice tailored to your specific situation. All articles are current as of their original publication date.